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After being sentenced to life in prison, Puerto Rican artist Elizam Escobar reflects on U.S. colonialism and the persecution of all those individuals who have fought it one way or the other. Escobar believes that colonialism is a crime of treason against humanity; therefore, those who question it must opt for whatever means of action they deem suitable, including armed struggle. The writer builds his essay around an analysis of what are, in his opinion, two “systems of logic.” One is the system maintained by a metropolitan/colonial regime that supports the unjust sentence applied to himself and two other Puerto Ricans; the second is the system that justifies the search for freedom to which Escobar subscribes.


Elizam Escobar (Ponce, Puerto Rico, born 1948) was arrested on April 4, 1980, accused of being a member of the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional Puertorriqueña [Armed Forces of Puerto Rican National Liberation] (FALN), a clandestine movement on the island that struggled for Puerto Rican independence, and was sentenced to 68 years in prison. During his prison term, Escobar continued to paint; he also wrote poetry and theoretical essays. On September 10, 1999, he was released from the El Reno federal prison in Oklahoma, whereupon he resumed his life in Puerto Rico. Since his release, he has taught painting at the Escuela de Artes Plásticas [School of Visual Arts]. [That same year,] Escobar organized and published the book, Los ensayos del artificiero: más allá de lo político-directo y el postmodernismo [Essays by the Explosives Expert: Beyond Direct Politics and Postmodernism].

Flavia Marichal Lugo
Museo de Historia, Antropología y Arte, Universidad de Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Courtesy of the private archives of Elizam Escobar, San Juan, Puerto Rico